Chapter 7Developing an Influence PlanDesign Thinking for Influence Opportunities

You think me a child of my circumstances: I make my circumstance.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why Design an Influence Approach?

Design thinking is an important concept that has emerged from the fields of architecture and engineering. It's a formal method for creative problem solving when the problem is complex and multidimensional. When you follow the process of design thinking, you begin with a goal and then examine many obvious and not-so-obvious aspects of the situation before coming up with alternative and iterative solutions. You can approach an influence opportunity in a similar way. Rather than using a more rational and scientific approach where you define all parameters first, you combine analytical and intuitive methods to learn all you can about the situation. You're not looking for a “right answer” but rather for an effective approach that could lead to a variety of possible outcomes.

The Pros and Cons of Planning

Most effective influencers tend to think about and plan for influence opportunities. The good thing about planning is that you go into the situation with greater confidence because you are much clearer about where you're headed and what to anticipate along the way. This is also a bad thing about planning, because it can give you a false sense of security and may lead you to ignore things that don't happen according to your plan—or a sinking feeling when you have an excessively rigid ...

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